Nora Titone will be at After-Words books on October 13 from 6 pm signing copies of her book My Thoughts Be Bloody.
The scene of John Wilkes Booth shooting Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre is one of the most vivid and indelible images in American history. The literal story of what happened on April 14, 1865 is familiar: Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth, a lunatic enraged at the Union victory and the prospect of black citizenship. Yet who Booth really was—besides a killer—is less well known. The magnitude of his crime has obscured for generations a startling personal story that was integral to his motivation.
My Thoughts Be Bloody, a sweeping family saga, revives an extraordinary figure whose name has been missing, until now, from the story of President Lincoln’s death. Edwin Booth, John Wilkes’s older brother by four years, was in his day the biggest star of the American stage. He won his celebrity at the precocious age of nineteen, before the Civil War began, when John Wilkes was a schoolboy. Without an account of Edwin Booth, Titone argues, the real story of Lincoln’s assassin has never been told. Using private letters, diaries and reminiscences of the Booth family, Titone has uncovered a hidden history that reveals the reasons why John Wilkes Booth became this country’s most notorious assassin.
The details of the conspiracy to kill Lincoln have been well documented elsewhere. My Thoughts Be Bloody tells a new story, one that sheds light on Booth’s decision to conspire against the President by setting that decision in the context of a bitterly divided family—and nation. By the end of this journey, readers will see Abraham Lincoln’s death less as the result of the war between the North and South, than the climax of a dark struggle between two brothers who never wore the uniform of soldiers, except on stage.
Nora Titone studied American History and Literature as an undergraduate at Harvard University, and earned an M.A. in History at the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked as a historical researcher for a range of academics, writers and artists involved in projects about nineteenth-century America. She lives in Chicago. My Thoughts Be Bloody is her first book.